Nokia recently released a smartphone that shoots 41 megapixel images. What exactly can we videographers do with a phone that shoots photos at 16x the size of high-definition? Paul Trillo shows us, with a video that creates an “infinite zoom” effect by photographing one image per block for 41 New York City blocks with the Nokia Lumia 1020. Check out the video below, and an interview with Paul where he explains to No Film School how he made it.
Shot between New York City's Central Park and the Flatiron building, here is a 52-second video showing off what the Nokia Lumia 1020's PureView technology can do:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lA3-cJgN6I
Paul Trillo was cool enough to sit down and answer a few questions we had about how he made the Nokia NY 41x41 video.
NFS: So this Infinite Zoom is essentially a picture within a picture within a picture -- Inception style? Can you break down what is happening in this video, how you achieved the effect?
Trillo: In order for this effect to work properly, it was important that the images align to the same one-point perspective. The camera had to be placed in the center of the street and taken from exactly the same height. There are a few different grid overlays, so the cross hairs came in handy for matching the horizon line.
The photos were sequenced and stitched together in Adobe After Effects. First, I centered all the photos to the same vanishing point. Each photo had to be masked and retouched in order for the edges to blend seamlessly. After that, I parented the images together with a series of nulls and simply animated the scale. For a quick understanding of how to accomplish an image-within-an-image zoom, I recommend Andrew Kramer's Earth Zoom tutorial.
Take a look at Paul's behind-the-scenes video that gives a quick look at the stitching together process:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FXJoTaBgFQ
NFS: So what are some other real life applications for being able to take a picture of this quality on your smartphone?
Trillo: What's useful about having all that extra wiggle room, is it allows you to re-crop your photos. Lose the extra head room, rotate and level out your horizon line. The Nokia Pro Camera editor allows you to makes all these changes in a non-destructible way. It's really powerful and the processor handles these Photoshop-like edits with ease. Also allowing you to zoom in on things that are normally too far for a standard camera phone to see. The zoom feature on other cell phones is pretty useless.
NFS: Hypothetical use of Nokia Lumia 1020: a guy grabs my Domke bag full of expensive lenses, and I snap a pic of him running away. Will the police be able to zoom in and make an ID on this lowlife?
Trillo: Absolutely, this will prevent crimes. It's totally the camera designed for CSI-style "enhance -- enhance" or to notice weird and funny people you didn't even know you were taking a picture of.
NFS: What is the workflow like when shooting these images on the Nokia? How practical would this be to use for, say, photojournalists? Pro photographers?
Trillo: The saying goes "the best camera you have is the one you have with you." This definitely proves that point. The phone has all the manual settings you'd expect from an actual camera. This allows you to rack focus, exposure, shutter speed and white balance. Controlling exposure opens to door the a more shallow depth of field and with the shutter speed you can take long exposures. The camera has the option to shoot at a smaller resolution, if you don't need all those extra megapixels.
I'm looking forward to traveling with it. I could see it being useful if you're looking to be discreet as a photojournalist, the image quality is definitely good enough for print and editorial. Pro photographers will appreciate the camera's functionality, but this phone isn't meant to replace anything at that level.
NFS: Does it shoot video?
Trillo: Sure, the video quality is great. I haven't spent a lot of time with the video feature, but the one thing I did notice is the "jello-warping" is greatly reduced compared to other camera-phones.
NFS: Lastly, how did you not get hit by any NY taxi drivers?
Trillo: With careful tai-chi fluidity, timing traffic lights and running like hell.
Thank you, Paul!
Anybody have any other good ideas on how to use a smartphone that shoots pictures this big? Let us know in the comments below.